Fresh & Fancy Farms: One acre of growth, beauty
NEW MILFORD — “Look at that Clematis growing up there,” said Meg Nobile, pointing to a purple flower on a vine hugging a post at Fresh & Fancy Farms.
“I think growing by example is when we sell them.” She then continues her stroll, then stops. “And we have tomatoes growing up here,” she says, pointing to a tiny plot of earth dotted with signs identifying what is growing and where.
She ponders for a moment, the continues. “I feel like if we had a café, it’d be called the ‘Edible Petal.’ That’s our future, right there.”
Yes, that’s for the future — a bright one. For now, there’s a great history here and current life at 575 River Road.
The former Klinger’s Farm, 97 in business as a farm until 2011, was after the sudden passing of Bill Klinger purchased by the Low family of Oradell, who have taken the humble property and kept it prosperous — and still humble, although now offering space for small events and dinners, and a farm market.
There are flowers, plants, fruits, vegetables, and chickens that call Fresh & Fancy Farms home.
Here, visitors have a nice mix of old and new.
“The point of it is to bring a bit of nostalgia to people and slow them down. If you’re in a timeline, don’t come and visit us. I am not going to get you out on time,” Nobile said. “It’s old fashion fun.”
Sammie, a popular female cat greets folks in the market as Nobile explains the variety of candles, soaps and other items for sale. Sammie belonged to Bill Klinger.
People come just to visit her. Nobile, in her spare time, has a lot of old gardening books she peruses. “I read them, and you know, begonias haven’t changed.
They are what they are. You read about them from hundreds of years ago, and it’s the same plant.”
Nobile, who is in charge of Fresh & Fancy Farms events, has just concluded Farm Camp, a one-week, yearly event on the property. “We like to show people how you can utilize space,” she says. “So, container gardening, raised beds, just working with small pieces of property so we can show people — as they’re buying their vegetables, plants or herbs — we just like to demonstrate what we can do. Not everybody has a big space to grow, but you don’t really need that.”
The extra activity that takes place at Fresh & Fancy Farms, especially the on-site dinners, is relatively new. It had its introduction in a unique way. “We had a dinner with our family — a Sunday afternoon — we set some tables…” says Nobile.
“We put this barn up in ’13,” interjects Kerry Low, Meg’s mom, referring to the barn where indoor dinners are held. She then says to her daughter, “It was probably that summer that you put the kitchen in.”
“And we didn’t have this,” counters Nobile. “We didn’t even have the kitchen. My dad brought a little tent, we strung lights, we made most of the food (at home), and people had been coming by to get flowers and said, ‘We want to do this. We want to come.’ It sort of became that we had these Sunday cheese and wine things with our family, and other people said, ‘Wait a second. We want to be a part of this. How can we be a part of it?’ So, it came from that, right, wouldn’t you say?” Nobile ask her mom.
“You’re creative,” Kerry Low says, smiling at her daughter. “She’s really creative.”
Nobile also prepares pizza using a Tuscany oven from California, all prepared with sauce from on-site grown tomatoes. Ingredients for all Fresh & Fancy Farms dinners come right from the farm, or from local locations.
Don Low and his wife are instrumental in the ordering and growing of the greenery and foliage in the greenhouse, while Nobile takes care of the entertaining part of the operation, although if occasion calls for it, she also does some weeding and planting. The balcony and staircase woodwork inside one of the two barns use timber that was repurposed from Hurricane Sandy.
“Family,” says Nobile, when asked what gets everything accomplished at Fresh & Fancy Farms. “Period. I get a lot of the credit, but I couldn’t do it without my mom, my aunts, without my family and the love from my husband, Michael, and our children. I kind of feel like it’s our home. And I feel like people are comfortable here.”
The garden center of the Fresh & Fancy Farms is closed in January and February (although prep work within the greenhouse abounds) but events still happen.
When the Lows first bought the farm, all Nobile knew of farming (or something resembling it) was as a girl when she did fruit growing with her dad, she the most interested of the four Low siblings. “I learned to cook a lot in Italy when I lived there, but I think there’s an art with growing, trying to understand the plants and get it.” Nobile also says (with a smile) that pesticides are a no-no at Fresh & Fancy Farms. “We let nature exist. We’re not a ‘row’ kind of farm,” she says of the Lows’ unique slice of Heaven, “but we’re like the ‘wild thing.’ There’s a whole campaign out, ‘Ugly Delicious,’ going on, and I truly believe in that. When we do our markets, we try our heirloom tomatoes, and then people believe it.”
“You’ve got to taste it to believe it.”
Kindness is important to Nobile, the Low family, and her staff as well. “I’d rather you be ignorant about a plant but be nice to a person,” she says. One team member is Amanda, doing some early morning watering of flowers on a recent warm Tuesday. Then there’s the Walker brothers, a trio who have toiled lovingly on the farm since 2012.
“It’s a lot of time…and love,” says Kerry Low. “You couldn’t really have it any other way.”
Meg Nobile expands on her mom’s words. Art, patience, and hard work are all part of Fresh & Fancy Farms, but perfection is not. “We’re definitely not perfect. I don’t really believe in perfection as part of growing. You have to let nature do its thing, too. I think it will make things taste better. I think you don’t need things so manufactured. It probably makes a lot of people crazy, but I’ll see a patch of dirt and plop a tomato plant in there. There’s really no sense in it, but I think you have to use every piece of acre we have.”
She adds that a passerby walking along the edge of the farm notices its charm. “It looks wild, but it’s really thought out.”
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P.O. Box 2026 Easton, MD 21601-8925